There is a new trend going on in the world of matrimony. No, it isn’t destination weddings, or bright fanciful colored wedding gowns, or crazy flash mob style proposals (although those can be really cool…as long as you are sure you are getting a “yes”)….it is something else. It is a slowdown in proposals, in weddings, in people choosing to be married at all.
Some Choose Cohabitation
It’s true. Bride Barbie might have been fun to play with as a child, but that doesn’t mean that every little girl grows up with the idea and goal to be walked down the aisle to sign a legally binding contract with another person, dutifully becoming one taxable entity. Some men and women are choosing to (gasp) NOT get married and just (don’t tell Grandma) cohabitate. Yep, you read that right…the habit of living together without marital contract. Cohabit. And for many of them, its darn good. If you are one of the Cohabit Crowd and are doing so because you don’t need a piece of paper ordained by an officiant and your local county recorder to show your commitment for each other, that is a bit different from those who belong to this club because they are doing a “test run” for marriage. Not everyone who lives together is thinking about marriage…and yet some are…and how much does that really matter? It might matter to your conservative Aunt Gladys who is likely to talk about you to her priest, but it doesn’t much matter to me. Love and commitment don’t come with a big set of rules around here, well, not the kind of rules that you may be used to hearing anyway. Married, heading towards marriage or clearly cohabitating all works fine with one thing in common; commitment to love. But, how comfortable are cohabitating couples in seeking pre-marital counseling when they are clearly not looking to get married? Are they brave enough to show up in a therapy or coaching office that provides pre-marital counseling or coaching when they know they are clearly not “pre-marital”?
I sure hope so. See, the divorce statistics only count broken contracts. They don’t count couples who love each other, didn’t involve the government and then fall apart without help. It is easier to stop cohabitating than it is to cancel a marital contract (divorce). It’s cheaper, takes less time, and people just simply don’t have as much sympathy for the pain involved – but that doesn’t mean it isn’t terribly painful and emotionally damaging and possibly, with help, equally avoidable and unnecessary. I once knew a couple who lived together for 20 years. They loved each other and were together by choice, not by contract. Their conservative families talked often to them about “living in sin” and about him finally “making an honest woman” out of her (whaaaaaat? I have so much to say about that statement alone). They finally were shamed enough that they caved and married. Two years later they divorced. They both were free spirit type people who got along so much better when they were together because they wanted to be, not because they were legally bound in a shame avoidance maneuver. In trying to please everyone else, they lost part of what made their relationship work. Tragic and unnecessary. Sometimes we need to let go of other people’s ideas of what is right for us. We can’t let words overly define us or hold us back from making our lives what we want.
Don’t let the words fool you – pre-marital doesn’t always mean “before marriage” when you are talking to a secular coach and therapist. It is language we use to try to get visible enough for you to find us, but marriage is not required in order get help. All that is required is a commitment to Love – in whatever shape or form that takes on for you.
Supporting Great Love, Lynda